Another palm-tree studded island
Sat 21 Jan 2012 12:29
The last week we were at anchor in front of Waisaladup, a very small island maybe 20m long and 10m wide with high palm trees surrounded by a white beach. It doesn't get much more picture perfect than that. Liz wrote on her book and I worked on the boat and went diving, and in the evenings we met up with Mark and Liesbet from Irie for drinks and dinner. Now and then another boat would come by, but most of the time Gudrun V and Irie were on their own.
Then Irie ran out of water and had to go to a few miles south to a Kuna village to stock up. Upon their return we lifted anchor and intended to sail together to the next group of islands, the Coco Bandero Cays. Another set of palm-tree studded picture perfect postcard islands.
The sailing together part didn't quite work out, because we had some trouble lifting the anchor and it took as half an hour until we could leave the anchorage. The chain on Gudrun V runs into a plastic tube instead of into a chain locker, and when I let out more than 20m of chain there is always trouble getting it back in because it fouls up inside the tube and then wraps around the anchor winch and is a lot of sweat and trouble to free. Though, Liz noted, I stopped cursing when things like that happen and just work on it quietly and patiently. So maybe something good is coming out of all that, but personally I'd rather have things running smoothly. It's not only more comfortable, it's also safer. So we have another big project on the to-do list there. The previous owner installed all kinds of ingenious solutions on this boat which, like the plastic tube, sound fine in theory but don't quite work in practice. I call it "Catalan Engineering", and so far it has kept me busy with fixing things every other day since I bought the boat in July 2010.
By the time we were ready to go Irie was far ahead, and because it's only a one hour sail there was no way we could catch up. The sailing was great though. 15kn of wind on the nose in flat water due to the protection of the reefs. Perfect conditions to set Gudrun at a very sporty 30˚ angle to the wind and sail along with a lot of heel and a lot of fun. She is a race-boat after all.
The fun stopped for a minute at the only tacking point, when the drag of the dinghy and kayak behind us stopped us dead in the water when we where in irons (pointed at the wind). Not a good situation with a reef only a few boat-lengths to the lee, so it got a little hectice until we had started the engine to help us through that rather embarrassing situation.
When we reached the Cays Mark came out in the dinghy to guide us in. This was only our second "reefy place", and while we're starting to gain trust in our judgement of water depths by color, it just takes a while to feel comfortable running into a unkown rocky place with a 2.5m draft. Until then I'd rather ask a friend for help then foolishly run aground due to misplaced sailor's pride. Thanks Mark.
For a sundowner we dinghied over to an outlying island, Orduptarboat, which is just big enough for two palm trees. The island is only 50m south of the long reef that protects the Cays from the Caribbean sea, and just north of the island a broken wreck of a coastal barge is lying on that same reef. Mariners beware.
The plan is to spend today here then sail to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, Panama, for haul out. Later today I have to call the marina and re-confirm the haul-out for the 25th. They weren't sure because of the arrival of boats for the World ARC, many of which needed to haul out as well before their passage through the canal on the 30th. I kind of expect that our haul-out will be delayed, but then we just spend a few more days here among the picture postcard perfect palm tree islands. What a life.